Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Emory Dance Company Residency: Kendra Portier

(photo courtesy of

For the past two weeks, members of the Emory Dance Company (EDC) have been working in an intensive-style setting with NYC-based artist Kendra Portier. Kendra is originally from Ohio, and holds a BFA with honors in dance from The Ohio State University. She also recently received her MFA in dance from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Kendra has worked with many acclaimed dance organizations including David Dorfman Dance, Vanessa Justice Dance, and Nicole Wolcott Dance, amongst others.

Read on to find out more about Kendra Portier and her residency with EDC!

As is stated on her website, Kendra is "attracted to concepts often considered metaphysical and/or transdisciplinary." A self-proclaimed lover of mathematics, science, somatic curiosities, and music, her previous work has drawn her to a variety of topics, such as color theory, smog, and the physics/psychics of magenta. Here at Emory, Kendra has been working with EDC members for the past two weeks, for nearly 30 hours per week in a fast-paced learning environment. One dancer in the work, dance major Laura Briggs, states, "Kendra's process has been incredibly fulfilling. She moves at a quick pace, always designing and re-designing the space and the movement. It really keeps you on your toes mentally and physically. She uses a lot of rich imagery involving the core and the pelvis which adds texture and weight to our movement. The final product is a densely-packed dance built around a unique community."

Kendra is not only a dance-maker, but also a teacher and performer. She has taught and worked in residence at Gibney Dance Center, Mark Morris Dance Center, Bates Dance Festival, and Peridance. She also has her own dance collective, entitled BAND (BAND|portier, BAND|kp). Amidst her very busy schedule, Kendra currently goes between teaching at Gibney Dance Center in NYC and working as an Artist in Residence at the University of Maryland in the process of creating her new work, Burnish (Magenta #2). Kendra has also been teaching our Modern 4 and Modern 3 classes while at Emory these past two weeks, and the students have loved learning from her. They enjoy her fast-paced warm-ups, floor-work exercises, unique phrase work, and challenging team-based initiatives. We are so thankful to have had the opportunity to host Kendra here at Emory!

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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Emory Dance Summer Studies - American Dance Festival

Dance major Aryanna Allen spent this past summer training at the American Dance Festival Summer Intensive at Duke University. Ary, along with two other Friends of Dance Scholarship recipients, trained for nearly six weeks in classes such as Gaga, Limon, and Shen Wei Repertory. Pictured above is Aryanna with one of her instructors, Gerri Houlihan, an esteemed modern dance professor at Florida State University.

Read on to find out more about her experiences!

*Responses have been edited for length and clarity

This summer, I was given the opportunity to to attend the American Dance Festival (ADF) at Duke University for five and a half weeks. My initial goal for the summer was to increase my technical skill as a dancer. I did not yet know the true impact that this nurturing environment would have on my mentality and outlook on the professional dance world. Four days a week, I took Gaga with Saar Harari, Limon with Gerri Houlihan, and Shen Wei Dance Arts Repertory with Sara Procopio. The other three days per week were filled with guest auditions, master classes, discussions, and rehearsals. In the process, I was also cast in four student choreographed pieces. While reflecting on the summer, I realized that in addition to technical development, I felt myself grow a lot as a person and as an artist. My weekly classes fostered a lot of this growth but the performances, guest artists, and discussions I attended also played a huge role in my experience. Each of these opportunities were so unique and powerful that it is difficult to summarize. In total, I was able to take 83 dance classes, see 16 performances, attend 21 rehearsals, participate in 4 student choreographed works, and learn/perform with an amazing repertory cast. The ability to cross train many disciplines, work with respected dancers, and encounter such diverse opinions made me look at dance through a different lens. I now have a better sense of who I am as a dancer and where I’d like to be going within the artform. Before this summer, I wanted dance in my life, now it is a necessity. 

Thanks Ary!

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Friday, September 14, 2018

Emory Dance Summer Studies - Alvin Ailey

This past summer Emory dancer Athena Miros interned with the Alvin Ailey School of Dance in New York City. At Emory, Athena dances with Emory Dance Company and AHANA, and was very excited to have the opportunity to study in one of her favorite cities.

Read on to find out more about her experiences!

*Responses have been edited for clarity

This summer I worked as an intern at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City. Specifically, I worked for AileyCamp, which is an outreach program designed for low-income students to participate in a 6-week dance intensive. The students participate in classes in West African, jazz, ballet and Lester Horton Technique. I assistant taught and did office work for the camp. While I was in New York, I took classes at Broadway Dance Center. I also worked on my own choreography and filmed pieces I created.

Thanks Athena!

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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Emory Dance Summer Studies: American Dance Festival

This past summer, Emory dancer Patsy Collins spent her summer attending American Dance Festival's Summer Intensive at Duke University. At Emory she is a double major in dance and movement studies and business. At ADF she spent almost six weeks attending daily classes, attending performances by world-renowned companies, and taking master classes from dance professionals. To find our more about her experiences, please read on!

*Responses have been edited for clarity

What was your class schedule at ADF?

Each student is able to enroll in three courses while at ADF, and I chose to take Gaga, Modern-Rooted Technique, and Site-Specific Composition. I first connected with Gaga last summer, and knew that I wanted to continue to study and investigate this beautiful Israeli form of movement research. Our instructor, Saar Harari, pushed us both mentally and physically to find our limits, and then extend beyond them. My other courses were taught by Nia Love, who was an incredible role model for me. Her modern class was influenced by her training in Cuba, Ghana, and many other countries. Not only did we learn poly-rhythms and intricate steps from these cultures, but we also discussed the implication of our bodies performing these actions. My third class of the day, site-specific composition, was something completely new for me. Rain or shine we were outside every day, investigating our bodies' connection with the environment around us. Nia is one of the most influential people that I have ever worked with, and she taught me so much about how to create and cultivate powerful work.

What were some of your favorite experiences/memories during your time at ADF?

One memory that I am very fond of, was when Eiko Otake passed by our site-specific class one day. I remember her passing by, and all of us as students were kind of awestruck. She's a dance celebrity! I was talking about how much I admired her work, and my instructor Nia Love said "Patsy, why don't you go find out why she's here?" I was so nervous, normally I would never have the confidence to go up to someone like Eiko Otake and introduce myself. But I went in to the studio to find her, and ended up having a wonderful conversation with a true icon in the world of modern dance. I don't think I stopped smiling the entire rest of the day.

I also had the opportunity to be cast in work by international choreographers from Latvia and Italy, as well as participate in work by other ADF students. Being able to perform multiple times while also training intensively is one of the best things about ADF.

What were some of your favorite performances?

We saw so many incredible performances, it's difficult to pick a favorite. Ronald K. Brown's EVIDENCE was absolutely phenomenal. He was being given the Scripps Award while at ADF, which made his work feel especially personal. His company does an incredible job of involving the local community in what they do, even to the extent of bringing them onstage to join. Kyle Abraham's A.I.M was another favorite of mine. I had the opportunity to see a dress rehearsal, which was a very intimate experience. His work deals with inequalities of race and gender, the intimacy of human connection, and what it means to call something home. These in addition to Anne Plamondon, Rosie Herrera Dance Theatre, Shen Wei Dance Arts, and L-E-V Dance were some of my absolute favorites.

What are some of your major takeaways?

One takeaway that I will apply to my work in the future, is the importance of movement research. Though I've taken courses about this subject, and been in collaborative processes with professional artists, I feel I now better understand the value of movement as a source of gathering and processing information. Being in Gaga and site-specific courses gave me wonderful outlets to explore my body as it relates to those around me, and I cannot wait to apply these new skills to my senior year at Emory.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Emory Dance Program Presents our Graduating Seniors!

This year, Emory has seven incredible majors and minors graduating from our program!

Read below to find out some of their plans after graduation!

Maggie Vail

Major: Dance & Movement Studies
Minor: Linguistics

"After graduation, I will intern in the administrative office at the Bates Dance Festival for the summer. Afterwards, I'm moving to New York and looking for work in dance, whether it be performance, administration or perhaps teaching!

Alana Schoenhals

Majors: Dance & Movement Studies, Psychology

"I will be pursuing a Master's Degree in Occupational Therapy."

Katie Messina

Majors: Dance & Movement Studies, Linguistics

"After Graduation, I will be working for Honest Tea in Marketing and Events Planning. Additionally, I hope to be dancing around the Atlanta area with a variety of artists and programs such as ImmerseATL."

Isaac Andrade

Major: Anthropology & Human Biology
Minor: Dance & Movement Studies

"I will be attending Boston University School of Public Health to study Epidemiology and Biostatistics. I hope to concentrate on male sexual violence and the health/trauma intersection."

Viviana Coronado

Major: Psychology
Minor: Dance & Movement Studies

"For the first few months post-graduation, I will be in wedding planning mode. I also intend to focus on continuing to grow my online wellness coaching business."

Thursday, April 19, 2018

EDC Spring Concert Choreographer Spotlight: Serena Schmitt

Serena Schmitt is the final choreographer spotlight in our series! She is a junior in Emory College majoring in dance and anthropology. This is Serena's first time choreographing for Emory Dance Company, and her work, Here They Come, premieres next week at the concert.

Read on to find out more!

The process of creating work for Emory Dance Company has been a really positive learning experience for me. My work features seven incredible dancers who have worked with me through this process. I originally jumped into creating my work by using themes of water and erosion. Through improvisation, group work, and time alone in the studio, these ideas created most of the movement phrases seen in my work early on. However, as soon as the movement was generated, I let those themes go and started to craft the final piece as a whole. I strung together the different phrases, weaved my dancers through the space and tried out the final sequence to multiple different sound scores until I found one that I felt suited the work. I have set out to make a piece enjoyable for myself to create and watch, as well as enjoyable for my cast to dance. The most important thing for me was to not take myself or the work too seriously.

Our feedback sessions as a class provided a lot of insight for me as to how others were viewing the dance, in comparison to myself. It was such a learning process to hear what stood out and what didn't to other viewers. I look forward to hearing more feedback from audience members after the performance about what they thought and how they viewed it. 

Thanks Serena!

To purchase tickets for the EDC Spring Concert, click here!

For more information about our spring events, click here!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

EDC Spring Concert Choreographer Spotlight: Alana Schoenhals

Emory dancer, Alana Schoenhals, is our fifth choreographer spotlight! Alana is a senior in Emory College majoring in dance and psychology. This will be her first time choreographing for Emory Dance Company and she is very excited to share some of her thoughts with us!

Read on to find out more!

My initial idea for this work began last fall when I was sitting on a public bus observing interactions between bus riders. I noticed how strangers would often graze against each other and share touch unintentionally, especially when the bus was crowded. It got me thinking about how the intimacy of touch can vary so greatly, depending on your relationship with the person you are touching. 

As I began working with my cast, this idea progressed into emphasis on the individual relationships between the dancers, as well as the emphasis on a cohesive group identity. My dancers' movement with each other is characterized by gentleness and codependence, while maintaining a sense of vibrancy. Initially, I felt the need to force the piece to fit into my original idea, but over time I felt more comfortable with it morphing into something else. I believe that when you start a creative project, it is impossible to know exactly what it will become, and there is so much beauty in that.

Thanks Alana!

To purchase your tickets for the EDC Spring Concert click here!

To find out more about our spring events click here!